Nicki Minaj randomly dropped a single a few days ago called “Lookin’ Ass N*gga.” If you can get passed the repetition of the “n-word” then you’re in for a pretty good feminist rap about completely destroying the male gaze. As someone who doesn’t believe the “n-word” is offensive when Black people use it, the same way “bitch” and “slut” aren’t offensive when women use them for empowerment, I really love what Nicki Minaj is doing here.
Stop lookin’ at my ass ass n*ggas
Look at y’all lyin’ ass n*ggas
Talkin’ ’bout “It’s paid off” but it’s financed, lyin’ ass n*gga
Bunch of non-mogul ass n*ggas
Frontin’ like they got a plan, Boost Mobile ass n*gga
N*gga, n*gga, look at y’all
Can’t get a job so you plottin’ how to rob ass n*ggas
I ain’t gotta check for y’all
But if I’ma check for y’all, I’ma need a check from y’all n*ggas
I don’t want sex, give a fuck about your ex
I don’t even want a text from y’all n*ggas
I’m rapin’ you n*ggas
The video is simply her in the dessert with a pair of male eyes. She only shows the guy’s eyes. The guy’s eyes who are staring at her body, trying to objectify her, but she simply won’t allow it. She won’t allow her body, beauty, sexuality and power to be defined by men. He gazes at her and she stares right back. As she raps, smashing and destroying everything, completely devouring him, the eyes divert and wince in shock. It’s incredibly powerful. Nicki then shoots him with two large guns. A lot can be made of Nicki’s use of the word rape. That word is only defined in one way but it means different things to different people, namely rape survivors. So while some were offended that she would use that word in a song about empowerment and because that word itself is a trigger of a violent act that had been done to others, I can admit that the particular word choice could have been better or more precise. However, I choose to see the word used in its context.
Nicki is subverting the male gaze and is articulating a distrust of men who a) sexually objectify her, b) estimate their personal worth by their economic value (even if they actually have none), c) try to gain status and wealth by becoming criminals and d) use status to disempower women. When she says she is “raping you” she is subverting that objectification and gaze, she is destroying it, devouring it and that is a painful thing for a man to be emasculated by a woman. I understand why she chose that word (though there were other options) because it’s supposed to encompass that level of life-shattering discomfort: a man takes power from a woman with his penis, a woman takes power from a man with her mind, her lyrics, her fight, her audacity. I don’t think her intentions with the word trivializes rape, it underscores how powerful and damaging it is.
Nicki is using verbal violence to destroy the male gaze, to call a particular kind of insensitive, deceptive and unfeminist man out on his shit. The song is so harsh and brutal, it’s a verbal attack on how men have the power to attack women with their words, gaze and physical strength.